There’s an old adage: People hate to be sold, but they love to buy. Recently I had one of those rare, buying experiences that validated everything I know to be true about Counselor selling. In this case, the sales person was so good, so competent, credible, authentic, and demonstrated such impeccable integrity, that the whole experience made spending triple my budget a pleasure.
If you’ve ever done a major bathroom remodel, you’re likely smirking a bit when I tell you our original budget was in the four digits. Two estimates later, my husband and I were better informed, resigned, and more than a little discouraged. The third estimate, however, left us highly educated buyers, wowed by the possibilities, and yes, excited to plunk down 3 times our original budget.
As a Sales performance coach and consultant, this got me thinking, how does this happen? Assuming that the “product” is of the same high caliber- what is it about that salesperson that convinces us- very willingly- to pay significantly more than we would for their equally viable competitors?
The following are six things I learned, or re-learned, from our chosen contractor salesperson. We’ll call her “Jan”.
- Set the bar high. Create such high expectations for quality, deliverables, design, service, follow up- that the competition pales by comparison. Jan educated us on key questions we should be asking, why licensing and insurance is so critical, the differences between materials, advantages & trade offs of different options, how and why they operate the way they do. She had a binder. And it was full of photos of their awards, licenses, company values which she was clearly demonstrating, and very proud of. This was clearly not a fly by night operation. With the standards she set, we were already viewing the first two contractors as “less than.”
- Listen, Discover, and be Generous with your insight. Jan clearly heard our concerns and asked a lot of good, thought provoking questions. As a true Counselor Salesperson, she gained a clear picture of our current and desired situation. She understood not only what we wanted, but WHY. This enabled her to come up with some creative ideas and options to stay within a fair pricing range while still giving us high quality deliverables.
- Bring your customer to the Showroom- Involve your customer on the solution. Jan listened closely and brought us to the showroom to “build our bathroom”. By the time we got there, she had visuals and slides – of our CURRENT bathroom (Wow, did that dated tile and peeling wallpaper look really bad in close up!) But she also had visuals of our DESIRED bathroom- with its sleek granite countertops, polished fixtures, and heated tiles that we had picked out together. My experience is that so many sales people do a good job of getting to their client’s CURRENT situation- but fail to fully discover their DESIRED. By painting a picture for us and involving us in the process, we clearly saw how her solution closed the gap between our current and desired situation to make our vision a reality.
- Go the extra step, and pay attention to the details. Jan was the only salesperson who met with us in person to review her proposal. Everyone else emailed theirs to us. Hmmm. You’ve heard me say before how critical it is to review recommendations and proposals in a conversation. Ideally that happens face to face; second best is via telephone or webcast. It gave us an opportunity to refine a few important things, ask questions, and solidify the agreement.
- Negotiate win-win; bargaining & discounting cheapens your value. Jan was relentless in her conviction that they had priced the best value-cost balanced project for us, based on our priorities. Could they do any better price wise? “Sure”, she said, “we can take a look at a lower grade countertop…( WHAT?! That’s our countertop. I love that granite!!), or we could skip the heated floors and save X. (No WAY! I’m already feeling those warm floors under my feet on cold winter mornings!) Our Negotiating to Yes clients know the power of learning their customer’s key interests and priorities, and negotiating creatively to meet their key interests, as well as their own. But flat out discounting sends a message that you were priced too high to begin with- like a jewelry store that perpetually offers “50% off”. Demonstrate the value of your offering, as Jan did, design your solution to directly meet your clients’ priorities, and price fairly. You’ll keep your dignity and your margin, and your customer will be delighted.
- Validate the buying decision. Did you know that one of the highest points of tension for the client is just after they agree to do business with you? That’s right. Your salesperson is celebrating the “close” and the client is asking themselves, “Did I make the right decision?” Worst case, they’re experiencing genuine buyer’s remorse. This is a critical time to support the customer’s buying decision. Here’s how Jan did it: She not only sent a personal note, she had our project manager (we have our own personal project manager?!) send us a personalized letter introducing himself & his role, thanking us again for our business, introducing us to the GM, and reiterating their commitment to our satisfaction. She very smoothly transitioned us to the team that stood behind her to deliver on our expectations.
So, how did it turn out? Well, we officially start demo May 16th. Delivering on high expectations, maintaining customer satisfaction – that will be a subject for another blog!
What have you learned from great salespeople?
Let me know and, as always, let me know how I can help.